From The Knapsack Notebook of Matsuo Basho, in Basho’s Journey: The Literary Prose Of Matsuo Basho translated by David Landis Barnhill
Among diaries of the road, those of Ki, Cho-mei, and the Nun Abutsu are consummate works, bringing to fulfillment the feelings of the journey, while later writers merely imitate their form, lapping their dregs, unable to create anything new. I too fall far short, my pen shallow in wisdom and feeble in talent. “Today rain fell, it cleared at noon. There was a pine tree here, a certain river flowed over there”: anyone can record this, but unless there is Huang’s distinctiveness and the freshness of Su, it’s really not worth writing. And yet the scenes of so many places linger in the heart, and the aching sorrow of a mountain shelter or a hut in a moor become seeds for words and a way to become intimate with wind and clouds. So I’ve thrown together jottings of places unforgotten. Think of them as the delirium of a drunk or the rambling of one asleep, and listen recklessly.